Hydrotherapy uses the principles of buoyancy, hydro-static pressure or effects of the movement of water and water temperature to speed recovery after surgeries, reduce pain and stress, spasm and discomfort and is especially beneficial for people with work related or sport injuries, arthritis, neck, back, and knee pain and more.
The principle of buoyancy of water comes into play when treating muscular or joint injuries. Being in water reduces body weight by up to 90%. Physically this relieves the pressure of weight on our joints and muscles, and the feeling of weightlessness proves to be very relaxing mentally as well as physically. The weightless effect of water is also recommended for arthritis sufferers, as it eases joint stiffness and improves the mobility of the joints.
Hydrostatic pressure offers a form of massage that is soothing as well as healing. Studies at trauma and burn centres have shown that the massaging currents of water gently soothe touchy nerve endings while cleansing the wounds. This massaging action, combined with weightlessness, relaxes tight muscles. It also releases natural painkillers, called endorphins, into our system.
Water temperature has a great deal to do with hydrotherapy. Hot water raises your body temperature and causes your blood vessels to dilate. This increases circulation and greater circulation can speed up the body’s healing processes. Some people believe that a hot soak (40C) can help you fight a cold or flu. This high temperature increases the number of white blood cells, which help to fight infection.
The Soothing Power of Soaking
People use hydrotherapy to treat many illnesses and conditions, including acne, arthritis, colds, depression, stomach problem, joint, muscle, and nerve problems, sleep disorders and stress. They also use it for relaxation and to maintain health. You can also use hydrotherapy to reduce or relieve sudden or long-lasting pain.
Hot water acts as a sedative on the sensory and motor nerves and relieves pains, cramps and spasms.
Heat dilates blood vessels, which will turn lowers blood pressure. It also increases the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients and speeds the elemination of toxins.
Hot Immersion Bath
Given at a temperature of 38C – 42C for a maximum of 20 minutes, and water has to come to the shoulder level. Hot bath is recommended for instant relief from colic pains, muscle and joint pains. It is soothing to the nerves and helpful for bladder and urinary problems, mild-cold and low fevers. Adding herbs or essential oils helps to soften and moisturize, and can stimulate or relax.
A recent study at the Mayo Clinic found that soaking in a hot water bath gives many of the health benefits of exercise with less strain on the heart! Soaking in a hot bath increases the heart rate while it lowers blood pressure rather than raising it as does other forms of exercise. Immersion in hot water first speeds up the heart to send blood to the surface and disperse extra body heat into the air. But after a few minutes, the warm blood causes the blood vessels to dilate, which lessen resistance to blood flow and lowers the blood pressure.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) believes that many cases of insomnia can be traced to hectic, stressful lifestyles. It recommends regular soaking in warm water a few hours before bed to enhance sleep quality. Studies suggest this can ease the transition into a deeper, more restful sleep. The temperature change may be a signal to the body that it is time to sleep, or the sensation of weightlessness may just be relaxing to the muscles.
A study pblished in the New England Journal of Medicine even suggests that soaking for 30 minutes each day can lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.